There’s no Ph.d at the end of my name, so what I will assert here just comes from my personal experience, and is in no way meant to be the only set of solutions for this daily voiceover audition process. But, when I dissect how I am able to keep chugging along day after day and feeling positive and good about what I’m doing despite the competition and rejection involved, this is what comes to mind.
Keys to Positive Results in Your Next Voiceover Audition
1. Be picky
Try to only audition for projects for which you really feel you are a good fit. As actors, we have a tendency to think our vocal range is broader than it actually is. Know what you can do… Especially what you can do well, and what IS and ISN’T in your wheelhouse. If you labor over a voiceover audition for too long without getting in the groove, just let it go. Voiceover auditions are such a longshot anyway that spinning your wheels for too long is just a royal waste of time, and only serves to deplete your energy and faith in your talent. An important note: It may take some time (even years) to know what you are really good at in voiceover. You’ll probably have some early insights that you can run with, while you develop your talent and skills more deeply as you progress along your path. Participating in a reputable voiceover workshop is a great way to discover and develop your strengths as a voiceover actor.
2. Be succinct and simple
Often I will find that, after many takes of the same copy, the first one was actually the best. It was spontaneous and real, and didn’t seem overly thought out or rehearsed. I know some voiceover audition coaches might disagree with this approach, wanting the actor to really flush out all the choices. But the bottom line is, if you have the intuitive connection with the copy, and come to the mic with the basic acting knowledge as a given (no substitute for having an acting background in the voiceover profession) you’ll either be the voice they want, or you won’t. That part of the equation is completely beyond your control. So give it your best shot, and then let it go!
3. Become a good voiceover audition director
Unless you’re going into your agent’s or a casting office for your voiceover audition, you’re probably self-directing. This can be tough. It is where the experienced voiceover professionals will have a real edge over the newbies. If you’re less seasoned in the profession, (or if you just need a tune up) seek some active coaching from a reputable source. I’ve most recently worked with Marc Cashman in LA, who is very reasonably priced, and has the ear and expertise to help you discover what you’re missing. Voiceover coaching can give you a more competitive edge in the voiceover audition process.
Ever heard of the 10,000 hours to mastery? Anders Ericsson, the Florida State University psychologist whose research on expertise spawned the 10,000 hour rule-of-thumb, says, “You don’t get benefits from mechanical repetition, but by adjusting your execution over and over to get closer to your goal.” A voiceover audition coach can help you see where you need to adjust. And 10,000 hours… Well there is simply no substitute for putting in the time and practice if you wish to become a skilled master.
4. “Fuh-get about it!”
Once you’ve submitted your voiceover audition and given it your best shot, move on to whatever is next. Pining over when or whether you’ll get notice of a booking doesn’t serve you. Each voiceover audition you record is another chance to perform and hone your skill. Look at it as another opportunity to practice any new techniques you’re playing with and strut your stuff. If you DO book the job, see it as the icing on the cake.
This is really about shifting from being “results-focused” to being more “process-focused” in how you approach your profession. In our society, people tend to be fixated on results. Results are important for sure. But in an artistic type of business, if you’re too focused on just results, you may miss important adjustments you can make in your process. The real joy and excitement of creation comes during the act of creation.
5. Be non-attached
I’ve already kind of alluded to this idea, but it’s worth mentioning again. The more attached you are to getting any specific job, the harder it may be to get it. This might sound counter-intuitive, but when you want something too much (too strong of a desire coming from a place of not having it = lack) you can actually wind up blocking yourself off from getting it. You may inadvertently be focusing on the fact that you don’t already have it and this creates internal discord and contradiction in your thoughts and emotions.
I have found that a good way around this dynamic is to hold desires for more general things such as, “my goal is to keep improving and expanding my talent and ability as a voice over actor” rather than, “my goal is to get this Sony national commercial!” You can focus on the specific job and put it out there to God and the Universe as a clear request, but then you have to let it go and not focus on it too much. Let the chips fall where they’re going to fall as you keep moving forward toward your bigger picture dream.
Live Into Your Big Goals and Allow Great Things to Unfold
My goal when I first started acting was to simply be a working actor and I’ve never wavered from that being my primary goal. I didn’t aspire to win an Academy Award or be on Broadway, although those things could have been part of my path and I certainly wouldn’t have minded them showing up. I also didn’t set out to be a voiceover actor. Surprise!!! That result was just the way my goal got fulfilled. And, here I am, thirty years after setting that goal, still living my dream as a working actor!
Moral of the story: Enjoy the journey even more than you enjoy the destination. Realize that most of your time here on earth is spent on the journey, and that the destinations are usually few and far between. So make a conscious point of enjoying the journey and you’ll find that you will pass through many wonderful destinations along the way!
Debbie Grattan has been in the voiceover acting profession for over 20 years, collaborating on thousands of projects and partnering with hundreds of production companies, marketing and advertising firms, commercial voice-over recording studios and corporate/business clients around the United States and throughout the world. Check out her Voiceover Demos and request a Custom Voiceover Audition for your upcoming project.